johnlink ranks THE MATRIX (1999)

So here it is. The new review style. Article over systemic stylizing. Didn’t think I would go this long into January before my first movie. Blame it on the plays I’ve been working on. Blame it on familial obligations. Blame it on Stephen King for writing an excellent 1100 page novel called UNDER THE DOME. Anywho… here we go…

I watched THE MATRIX (1999) on 1.20.10. It was my fourth or fifth viewing of the film, but my first in four or five years…

THE MATRIX is supposedly the epitome of cool. The black overcoats, the leather body suits, the non-temple sunglasses. We watch as cool people do cool things like defying gravity, kicking in slow motion, and stopping bullets. I like THE MATRIX. I agree that it is cool. I just wish it didn’t think it was so cool. To me, a movie like DARK CITY trumps THE MATRIX because it is story first and style second. Make no mistake, THE MATRIX is a rewatchable classic, but it is not without its flaws.

Agent Smith, though supremely acted by Hugo Weaving, is my biggest issue with the movie. He is quite human in emotion despite his mechanical origins. At times he talks instead of taking action. He’s concerned, in true villainous fashion, with making sure his enemies know why he is doing what he does. This seems to be counter to his supposed programming.

But the action? Truly awesome. There is certainly more slow-motion work then I care for. They started a trend here which reached a peak of horribleness in 300. Even AVATAR (which could do all the action without slow-mo since it is CGI anyway) went slow-mo too often. But I digress. The matrix (I mean the world of the movie not the movie itself) allows the action to exist in a world not constrained by rules. The choreography is beautiful and imaginative, like fighting in a dream where you can do whatever your mind could imagine. The development of the characters’ realization of these possibilities is fun to follow, and is the reason this movie works.

This is the defining role of Keanu Reeves’ career. It was made for him. It takes the best of Ted, and the best of his action characters, and gives him something which suits him. He’s not asked to carry the emotion of this film on his shoulders, that is left for Laurence Fishburne who is much more up for the task. Carrie-Anne Moss, though made in turns to look like a skeleton or curiously androgynous, brings the unnecessary love interest to a higher level. Joey Pants is a perfect turncoat, another great role in a career filled with under-the-radar characters.

The script in this film attempts, like the rest of the film, to ‘be cool’. It succeeds more than it fails. Some of the dialogue is hammy, but directed with the proper levels of seriousness to avoid sliding into the realm of silly (though Trinity waking up Neo simply by loving him comes close). This is a movie which benefits from having its writers direct, and that certainly isn’t always the case throughout film history.

The aesthetics of the film have dated decently well. It’s funny to see the giant desktops of the late 90s in a technologically updated present. The film ages well because it doesn’t pretend to be ‘today’. It explains that the matrix has been created to represent the height of civilization (I might have gone with the late 1940s… there would have been an interesting film!). It is a little strange to see the ship of the future using dated gigantic keyboards, but it overall succeeds in feeling like a modern film. I can’t believe this movie is already eleven years old!

Everyone, it seems, has seen THE MATRIX. I can’t remember the feeling of some of the revelations of this film feeling new. I’d be curious to watch with someone who has never seen it. I’d like to see someone experiencing this classic for the first time!



8+8+6+7+0= 29


~ by johnlink00 on January 20, 2010.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks THE MATRIX (1999)”

  1. […] M1 Link here […]

  2. […] humans is the enclosed city of Zion. There, people are free to live out their lives, not fearing robot attacks. A lot of humans were born there. They aren’t able to connect to the Matrix because they lack the […]

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